: Sticker shock for older adults: Essential items have gone up in price by about 10%

United States

The rate of inflation may be slowing, but more than two-thirds of older adults have seen their monthly budget for essential items such as housing, food and prescription drugs rise 10% from a year ago.

The data from the Senior Citizens League, a think tank that advocates for seniors, show that the goods and services needed by older adults are seeing the most lasting inflation.

This comes as the cost of living rose a slim 0.1% in November amid lower oil prices. Still, another key measure of inflation showed higher costs of other goods and services, such as rent and used cars.  

Read: Inflation is sticky in November, CPI shows, on higher rents and used-car prices

“Housing, motor-vehicle insurance, the cost of hospitals and care of invalids at home — these are the savings-draining black holes even when inflation is low,” said Mary Johnson, Social Security and Medicare policy analyst for the Senior Citizens League. “Yet these are the very categories seeing the most persistent and painful inflation right now.”

The Senior Citizens League put together a list of items seniors might be spending on over the holidays — including food for the holiday table and gifts such as tickets to sporting events, as well as regular expenditures — that have seen the greatest jump in price. Housing expenses, Johnson noted, take up more than 40% of the average senior’s household budget.

Item Percentage increase
Motor-vehicle insurance 19.2%
Admission to sporting events 16.4%
Motor-vehicle repair 12.7%
Beef roast 12.5%
Veterinarian services 9%
Outpatient hospital services 7.3%
Rent 6.9%
Homeowner costs 6.7%
Care of invalids at home 6.5%
Frozen vegetables 6.1%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, November CPI-U data, Dec. 12, 2023. Compiled by the Senior Citizens League.

Older adults, meanwhile, will be notified this month by mail about the cost-of-living adjustment to their Social Security benefits.  

The new 3.2% COLA takes effect in January. Johnson, however, noted that rising Medicare Part B premiums will take a bigger chunk of benefits, as will tax withholdings.

In 2023, the COLA was 8.7%.

Read: Social Security’s COLA for 2024 is 3.2%, vs. 2023’s historic 8.7% inflation-fueled adjustment

Social Security beneficiaries can also view their COLA notice on the Social Security Administration’s website. They’ll need to create or log into their my Social Security account.

A total of 40% of older Americans rely on Social Security as their sole income in retirement, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security.

Read: Medicare Part B to rise about $ 10 a month in 2024